Why “It’s Okay, My Dog is Friendly” is NOT Okay

9 Comments

Why “It’s Okay, My Dog is Friendly” is NOT Okay

We’ve all had the experience of coming across an overly friendly dog. The kind of dog that runs up to you at full speed, dragging his owner along behind him. The dog that simply can’t control his own excitement as he jumps all over you, wiping drool on your clothes and dragging his nails down your arms. In the frenzy, you can’t tell whether the dog is trying to greet you or trying to eat you. 

That’s when the owner of the dog says it – those six little words that are supposed to diffuse the situation – “It’s okay, my dog is friendly.” 

While it is certainly good to know that the dog that is currently rubbing his body forcefully against your legs is not, in fact, trying to kill you, his behaviour is in no way excusable. The problem is that the dog’s owner actually thinks that using the excuse that his dog is “friendly” will make you immediately forget the fact that your personal space has been vigorously invaded. If you have a dog of your own that becomes caught up in the mix, the “friendly” excuse doesn’t work on him – all he knows is that another dog has entered his territory and that he may be threatening his human.

Even if your dog is as friendly as you say he is, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do your basic duty as a dog owner and train him to behave. The friendliest dogs are often the most ill-mannered because they are allowed to get away with things since they never actually end up hurting anyone. Just because your dog is harmless, however, doesn’t mean that his rude behaviour is excusable – this is true for all friendly dogs and it is something dog owners need to seriously consider.


Below you will find an overview of the top seven bad habits that many friendly dogs exhibit:

  1. Running full-speed to greet a new person or dog. This can be extremely off-putting for the other dog because they do not know whether your dog is coming in for a sniff or going in for the kill.
  1. Jumping all over new people and dogs. No one likes to have their personal space invaded, including dogs. If your dog starts jumping all over another dog, that dog might become anxious and could lash out in response.
  1. Licking the new dog’s face and/or his owner’s face. Dog kisses can be great, but you’d probably prefer that they come from your own dog or that you have some warning before it happens
  1. Humping another dog. This is generally a sign of dominance and it can cause the other dog to feel threatened. It the dog starts humping a human, the person may not feel as though their social standing is threatened but it is by no means a comfortable situation.
  1. Barking or whining excessively. Having your space invaded by a strange dog is alarming enough but if the dog starts barking and whining it can exacerbate the situation. Shy or timid dogs could be frightened by such a display or threatened to the point that they fight back.
  1. Taking food or toys. An unleashed dog can quickly ruin a picnic and, though it may not be a big deal to you, your dog could feel threatened by the intrusion. If the other dog takes your dog’s food or treats, it could be perceived as a threat and it might start a fight.
  1. Causing a distraction. Many dog owners use their daily walks as an opportunity to reinforce obedience training – if another dog comes running up in the middle of a training session it could throw everything off. Once your own dog gets excited, it can be difficult to regain control. 

When a dog owner says, “It’s okay, my dog is friendly” to excuse some kind of inappropriate behaviour, what he is really saying is, “I have no control over my dog”. Many dogs are friendly and social by nature but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to teach him basic obedience. The seven bad habits listed above are very common in friendly dogs, but they are by no means excusable. It is your task as a dog owner to take and keep control over your dog and to make sure that he is properly trained.

If you have a dog that is nervous or tends to be reactive around others then let others know with our Nervous, No Dogs and Caution range. Available in collars, leads, harnesses, bandanas and reflective lightweight coats.

 


9 Responses

Emma
Emma

April 17, 2020

I have an overly friendly dog and I have one of your harnesses that says “friendly.”

I agree that it is no excuse to say to others that ’it’s okay my dog is friendly’ in a situation where you do not know that the other dog is friendly.
My dog was a rescue and was obnoxious before I got him, he was uncontrollable and exhibited all of the above behaviors.
The harness let everyone know that he’s friendly (overly so) and that the behavior he was exhibiting was not dangerous, just out of control, whilst I could gain control with the harness. He doesn’t need the harness anymore because his behavior is great on-lead now thanks to my efforts with him, but he still is not going to a dog park until he learns how to treat other dogs with respect and great and play with other dogs nicely without my intervention.

Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter how well-intentioned and interventions and training are needed to correct it; it is up to the owners of the dogs to teach them how to behave appropriately on both sides and to indicate to each other whether their dog is safe to greet another dog or not.

Anonymous
Anonymous

April 07, 2020

I absolutely love this post!

As the owner of a dog who is a small-medium sized cute fluffy thing, looks are often deceiving! Whilst she is fine with people who approach calmly, she is absolutely NOT fine with dogs getting anywhere near her, even just passing her by on the street. And it takes a lot to calm her down.

I’m trying hard to train her to be more confident around other dogs, but every time she is thrown over her threshold by people allowing their dogs to go closer to us than I’d like, this puts her so many steps backward in her training all over again.

We usually try to cross a road or walk in the opposite direction when we see other dogs to keep her under threshold. But sometimes we may get stuck in between other dogs heading both directions and may need to sit and wait (and do our best to calm her down and reassure her that it’s okay as she frets and barks like crazy!)

It’s so disheartening though every time people have a dog off the lead in an onlead area as it makes it much harder for us to get away.

The amount of times I’ve walked her and had a dog rush her with the owner calling out “he or she is friendly”. Is enough for me to be very frustrated.

We use the no dogs lead and usually people are good. Though there are still a few people who don’t respect that she needs a lot of space from other dogs.

Also, whilst many people’s dogs may be “friendly”, rushing to another dog who clearly doesn’t want that other dog around, is poor manners and social skills. Which needs to be taught and monitored carefully by the owner through the use of a tool like a lead where the owner still has control over the dog. This will help your dog be a much better doggy citizen whilst still being able to enjoy their doggy rights to play with others.

Also, walking near a dog park where it is still onlead, should not be an excuse to let your dog off the lead early. I have in the past tried to use an area near a dog park to help train my dog to be okay with being in the vicinity of other dogs and feel safe. This however backfired massively, because of the amount of offlead dogs that would rush up to her even though she was clearly marked as no dogs and was wearing a muzzle!

Fine for your dog as it won’t be attacked due to the muzzle, but so stressful for my dog who was in training. Plus those people are now responsible for her anxiety around other dogs getting worse, because she couldn’t even feel she could defend herself against these dogs die to wearing a muzzle. Which creates more stress and anxiety which adds to the issue. Yes if I don’t put a muzzle on her and a dog runs up to her and she bites out of fear, then I don’t want to be responsible for another dog being injured! It’s a catch 22! What am I to do really!?

It is up to ALL owners to take responsibility and help make ALL dogs feel safe and confident when out on a walk.

Jacqueline
Jacqueline

April 07, 2020

This is a great article ! I have a cavoodle who has a severe bleeding disorder and must NOT come into contact with other dogs just in case there is a scuffle. One small scratch results in massive vet bills and days at emergency not to mention the mental trauma ! I’m so happy to have found friendly dog collars and have purchased the ‘NO DOGS ‘ lead and bandana , as we go to lots of places where unfortunately there are many owners who allow their dogs to roam free- I end up looking like a paranoid idiot scooping up my dog whilst politely asking the owner to leash their dog ! It would be so much easier if dog owners did the right thing in public places. I totally understand they want to give their dogs some freedom , so do I ! But I pick the place to do this very carefully where there are no other dogs around. Can’t wait to receive my purchase and hopefully it will make our lives a little easier !

Deb
Deb

December 02, 2018

Oh my goodness, I’ve had a few dogs at different times run straight at us, while onlead walking, irresponsible owners who let their dogs run free in onlead areas. I’ve never kicked them, a Heinz variety a Rottweiler a Lab, I’ve just demanded they stop and go back in a very loud voice, my Staffy’s and Heeler have sat and watched. Since then, I’ve bought the no dogs coats. Kicking a friendly dog would turn it vicious, I would only defend if I had too, my only visit to an off lead park had a retriever get angry as he didn’t like my dogs, so we left and I’ve never returned. I hope all owners obey onlead, even in bush, so many dogs have disappeared because of irresponsible owners letting them off.

Bruce
Bruce

December 02, 2018

I plead guilty to having an over friendly dog who loves to run up to greet other dogs. I also know that he is never aggressive and will simply walk away if another dog responds negatively. I recognise that his behaviour can unsettle other dog owners. Therefore I like to tell them that my dog is not going to cause harm. Since using the FRIENDLY dog collar other owners seem reassured and don’t panic when my dog approaches for a couple of sniffs. After all, they are dogs who love to play and race each other and even wrestle. That is what it is to be a dog. If your dog is nervous or reactive with other dogs, certainly you have a responsibility to ensure that your dog does not get vicious, and to warn other dog owners, but don’t go blaming the owner of a friendly dog for allowing his/her animal to be a dog.

Dave
Dave

March 06, 2017

When a dog runs towards you at full speed and you don’t know what it’s going to do, the best way to defuse the situation is to kick the dog in its belly. If for a second you think the dog could be dangerous and you might have a dog or small child with you that could get hurt, the best way to avoid disaster is kicking the dog square in its belly. Not a soft kick but a big kick. Like your kicking a soccer ball and trying to score a goal from half way. Run up to the dog as it’s running to you and kick it like your Bruse Lee. Don’t worry their stomach and chest is usually padded so you won’t hurt your foot or shin bone and if it’s done right you should hear the dog yelp and the wind come out of its mouth just before it runs scared back to its negligent owners. This way you avoid any potential dainger like getting bitten on your hands, arms or your worse your pet or child being bitten. This kicking technique works especially well on Staffys.
Happy kicking everyone?

Louese
Louese

March 04, 2017

Fully agree, it is great that your dog is friendly but mine in not. I find it very difficult when my girl is walking well (always on a lead) & another dog flies at her and she goes into protection mode. This then spoils the rest of the walk as she becomes very anxious or that might be me & she feels it. Yes we do growly classes (more so I can read her body language) but when you have an off lead dog running at you and the owners are yelling it’s ok she is friendly well when mine takes a chuck out of her don’t blame me.

Trina
Trina

March 02, 2017

I agree and disagree. Having owned a staffie temporarily who had some of these traits we fondly nicknamed “love bombing”, Rosie most often had a profoundly positive effect on people with her boisterous affection. She was very much in our control at all times and when she was allowed to do this “love bomb” routine, it was with someone who wanted / needed it or sometimes it was a stranger who would receive it and be grateful for the outpouring of love. We worked hard to ensure she was in control. Net net in our experience, her being like this impacted many people pawsitively. I do agree that pet owners need to be responsible. I also think “friendly” is used incorrectly by many.

Heidi
Heidi

February 24, 2017

Both parties need to take responsibility in a dog meeting.

A dog must learn to be confident enough to stand firm when meeting, not run or be rescued.

Approaching dog needs to learn respect for dog it meets by standing off and asking or awaiting response.

Dog owners must let their dog speak for itself and give controlled discipline to approaching dog and know what this looks like . It helps with his social confidence and educates the approaching dog.
He must know he can use his voice .

Owners need to understand some owners undrrstand and then there is ignorance in others and reactivity and fear. Accept that and move on. Try to calmly educate where you can.

Dashndogs behaviour and training academy

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